Best producer tasting note ever? “This wine has very little residual sugar and can accompany almost any meal.”
The Brumont La Gascogne isn’t the best Gascon wine I’ve ever had, and no one will ever confuse it with something to make a wine geek get all twitchy. But it’s certainly well worth what it costs, and isn’t that the point? And that’s because the producer understands cheap wine, as it shows on the tasting notes: “…it can accompany almost any meal.”
What more do we want – just a cheap wine that offers value and that we can drink without a lot of fuss? The Brumont La Gascogne ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is a white blend (gros manseng and sauvignon blanc) from southwestern France that does just that. It’s a solid, well-made wine – tart and citrusy, crisp and even a little minerality if you look hard enough. And if it’s not as grapey as I like, that’s not going to stop me from buying and enjoying it again.
And yes, unless you’re serving prime rib, you can drink this with anything from Chinese takeout to hamburgers to roast chicken to one of those salads made with all the leftovers in the refrigerator..
I took a lot of criticism from California wine devotees for the recent California value post, where I argued that there is almost no value left in the California wine that most of us can afford to drink. The Brumont La Gascogne is a case in point. There are probably only a handful of $10 California wines that are widely available that are of this quality, or of the quality of most $10 Gascon wine. That so many producers in California don’t seem interested in doing this should worry those of us who drink cheap wine.
Mini-reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, two whites you’ll enjoy and two reds you probably won’t.
• Lindemans Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($6, sample, 13.5%): It’s not so much that this Australian red tastes like a $6 cabernet, with overly sweet black fruit and lots of fake chocolate oak. It’s that so many wines that cost two and three times as much taste the same way (albeit with better grapes).
• Toad Hollow Merlot 2014 ($14, sample, 14.3%): Red from a once great California producer that tastes more like cabernet than merlot, complete with manly tannins. One fix? I put ice cubes in my glass, which toned down the wine enough so that it tasted like merlot.
• Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner 2015 ($15, sample, 13%): California white is a well-made, varietally correct version of the Austrian sommelier favorite – which is saying something given the Wine Curmudgeon’s lack of enthusiasm for gruner. Look for citrus and peach and a crisp finish.
This white blend from southern France gives the Wine Curmudgeon a chance to do two of his favorite things: Praise the genius of the winemakers in Gascony, who do what so few others in the world seem capable of ? make great cheap wine without any embarrassment; and criticize wine scores. Is it any wonder Gascon wine makes me so happy?
Best yet, this style makes the Cassagnoles even more refreshing and fruity, truly a bottle that is empty before you realize you have drunk the whole thing. Highly recommended, and it will return to the $10 Hall of Fame next year. My only regret? That we can’t buy it in the U.S. in the 10-liter box (the equivalent of 13 1/3 bottles) that it is sold in in France.
Yet someone, somehow, managed to give the wine 82 points on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app), claiming that it was like pinot grigio and didn’t have any taste. If this wine is only worth 82 points, I’ll drink a bottle of overoaked, too alcoholic California chardonnay, which is probably what that person thinks is tasty.
I love thee, Tariquet ($10, purchased, 10.5%), to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light and I marvel at how refreshing this Gascon wine is when it has no right to be.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise, and wonder at the citrus flavors and at the tropical fruit (pineapple?) in this vintage.
I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith, trusting Tariquet every year to make something extraordinary from ordinary colombard and ugni blanc.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints and after I tasted too much grocery store wine, so depressing and so much alike. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. Or at least until the next vintage.
What’s left to say about Gascon white wine blends that hasn’t been said since the first ones appeared in the 2008 $10 Hall of Fame? The same things I’ve been writing all along — cheap, well-made, food-friendly, and tasty. Can’t get too much of a $10 good thing, can we?
The Cedrus ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is more Gascon cheap white wine excellence, colombard and ugni blanc blended together to make a crisp, citrusy wine with the region’s trademark white grapiness and that is clean and delicious. And all for the same price as one of those incredibly dull, all too fruity grocery store red wines that California insists that we drink.
One of these days, I’ll do a Gascon tasteoff, and see which one is the best of the best. Until then, enjoy this abondance — and think about keeping a bottle or two around for the holidays. It’s a terrific wine if anyone stops by, if all you want is something to drink with Chinese takeout, or just feel like a glass after work.
A friend read the manuscript for the cheap wine book and said he had a fairly big question: ?Why aren ?t there any wine recommendations Because, of course, all wine books have to have wine recommendations.
The Cassagnoles ($10, purchased, 12%) helps answer his question: It ?s the quintessential cheap white wine ? professionally made and interesting, yet simple enough to appeal to people who are scared of wine and who don ?t want to spend a lot of money for something that they don ?t know.
It ?s produced in the wonderfully white grape and citrus style that defines Gascon white wine, and is made with grapes that don ?t show up too many other places ? one-half colombard, with ugni blanc and gros manseng filling out the blend. It ?s fresh and bright and lively and the bottle is gone before you know it. Wine for weeknight dinners doesn’t get much better than this. That’s why it’s in the $10 Hall of Fame and should stay there for a long while.
But what happens if I recommend it in the book, and a reader can ?t find it locally? Or buys an older vintage, which is worn out and off-putting? Or buys the wine one year when it isn ?t well done, which is possible given the vagaries of the wine business and that the book probably won ?t be updated every year with new recommendations. They ?ll fire off an angry email.
That ?s why the book is about the process of cheap wine ? its history, why cheap wine is possible, what makes a quality cheap wine, and how to find one. Then the reader won ?t be complaining. He or she will will be too busy drinking great cheap wine they found themselves, like the Cassagnoles. What more could I ask for?
This Gascon white wine set me up for a 2013 Curmudgie. I saw it in the store, and immediately doubted whether it would be any good, and for no reason other than I was being stupid.
A guy I know at the store talked me into buying it, and the first thing I did the next time I saw him was to apologize for being so cranky. What ?s the most important rule in tasting wine? Drink it before you judge it.
What sets the de Pouy apart is a green apple sort of citrus note that balances everything and takes the wine where most $10 wines don ?t go. Yes, it ?s a simple wine, but the best simple wines, like this one, aren ?t overdone or insulting. That ?s what makes them interesting.
Highly recommended; chill it and drink on its own, or with almost any kind of food that isn ?t red meat, a cream sauce, or spaghetti. It should stay in the Hall as long as it costs $10 — and as long as I don ?t judge it before I drink it.